By Carol Thomas
On December 12, 1982, the Sentry Armored Car Company in New York City was robbed of $11.4 million from its headquarters. It was the biggest cash theft in U.S. history. On a positive note, also on this date Elena “Ellie” Clodius came to work for the Department of Correction as a Senior Clerk and Typist and now, just over three decades later, she has stepped into the position of Acting Deputy Superintendent at the Pondville Correctional Center.
Ellie is a first generation Italian, born in the U.S. and comes from a tight-knit family who still practices the Italian tradition La Viglia di Natale. On Christmas Eve, Italian families all over the world gather together for La Viglia di Natale – the Christmas vigil – where fish is on the menu instead of meat. Also called The Feast of the Seven Fishes, the ritual of La Viglia has been handed down from generation to generation over the centuries.
After spending some time with Ellie discussing various topics, it quickly became apparent to me that she has a story to tell therefore, it is my extreme pleasure to present to some and introduce to others…An Interview with Ellie Clodius.
CT: Who has influenced you the most?
ELLIE: My grandfather who was very positive. Although I had a short time with him he told me that I could do anything I put my mind to – he encouraged me to work hard and be responsible. The other person who influenced me the most was Lisa Mitchell who was the Deputy Superintendent at Southeastern Correctional Center at the time. I was the Records Manager and Lisa said she was impressed with how I kept the staff’s morale up. She encouraged me to seek promotional opportunities because she said I had so much more to offer the DOC.
CT: Why did you choose to do what you do for the DOC?
ELLIE: I came from the private sector and I was interested in doing something new and finding out what the DOC was all about.
CT: In my opinion you are a success, what dreams and goals inspired you to succeed?
ELLIE: I came to the DOC at a time when it was difficult for women so I wanted to make a difference and be a leader for other women. I took on challenges that were outside of my comfort zone. For example, I was known as one of the few Date Computation Specialists and was called upon numerous times to go to other facilities to provide a foundation for their processes and conduct agency-wide training at the intermediate and advanced levels.
CT: What characteristics or skills do you think you have that set you apart from some of your peers and enabled you to be so successful?
ELLIE: I was willing to help others and travel to other sites. I always gave 110% and took pride in my work to ensure that I turned out the best product possible. I also took on extra positions when needed.
CT: What do you see as upcoming trends in corrections?
ELLIE: I see us being more proactive with greater involvement in re-entry, seeking alternate ways to handle parole violators, more education-oriented, dealing creatively with the mentally-ill population without the use of restraints and establishing a specialized facility for our aging population.
CT: Any final words?
ELLIE: I really enjoy working for the DOC and I encourage all females to seek career advancements because you can do it.
This article is dedicated to the individuals who dream of making a positive impact at the DOC but still don’t think that they are good enough or smart enough. Ellie is an example of an ordinary person whose great dreams have been fulfilled due to her courage, commitment and willingness to pursue the dream. It is my hope that, from this personal story, we will all look for ways to make an indelible impression as we embark on this journey into the future together.